Thursday, 27 December 2007

A Canadian Christmas

So our first Canadian Christmas went very well. We spent the day at Sunshine Village skiing and snow boarding. Lots of the skiiers had swapped helmets for santa hats, but I thought that might be tempting fate on my third day on the slopes!

Although we were both booked for a full day of tuition, we left after lunch (pasta!) and came home to open presents and phone the UK. Then in the evening we had a fantastic Christmas buffet at the Raddison hotel in Canmore ($25 for 4 courses!)

We were back at Sunshine yesterday and I went down a black run which was covered in about 3 foot of powder! Great fun. Of course I wasn't able to stay upright for most of it, but at least it was a soft landing.

Today I'm having a day off and letting my aching body recover, but Jim has gone back for more! So I joined a couple of Ralston wives for a sleigh ride around Lake Louise. The last time we were in Lake Louise less than 3 months ago there was no snow, this time, the lake was completely frozen. There was an ice castle and a skating rink!

Monday, 24 December 2007

Happy Christmas...Eve

Quick update from us before the inevitable smug posting showing photos of us on the ski slopes on Christmas Day... We've finally been on the Banff Gondola, after being well and truly shown up by the Other BATUS Bloggers (aka the Tingeys) who have been in Canada less time than us and have a larger family and have now been on the gondola twice! We went up Sulphur Mountain on Sunday when it was bloomin' freezing and we could barely stand on the observation deck for long enough to take a photo! Jim says his North American experience is now complete after meeting a local at the top called 'Randy' !

We followed this up with a slightly confused Alpine/Rocky lunch of cheese fondue followed by Buffalo burger!

Today it was back to Sunshine Village for my first day of board school whilst Jim joined some Ralstonites on a week long ski course. It was a vast improvement on our last trip, not least of all because it was 20c warmer! Only -7c this time!

That's it from us today. We're having an early night so we can be up early to phone the UK on Christmas Day! Whatever you are up to tomorrow, have a great one!

Saturday, 22 December 2007

Father Christmas visits Ralston

We arrived at the condo in Canmore last night, but before we left I had a rather unique photo opportunity as Father Christmas flew in to visit the children at Ralston School in a Gazelle helicopter (obviously the reindeer were resting ahead of their big day!)

We had a good journey up to the mountains only slightly delayed after we got stuck in our first snow drift (outside our house) and had to be towed out (with our other car!)

The condo is fantastic and we've already got the Christmas tree up. We're having a weekend chilling out and will be hitting the ski slopes on Christmas Eve. Jim's pre-booked for a week's skiing and I'll probably spend a couple of days in board school and then see how it goes.

The free wifi is a God send and we've already got good use out of it by using Skype to call friends in Germany and the UK.

Wednesday, 19 December 2007

Cup of tea, mince pies and Cranford

I had a nice afternoon today enjoying some things that had arrived in the post at long last!

First of all our latest delivery of UK TV programmes from my parents. Normally they arrive about 4 days after they post them, but this latest batch was slowed down by the volume of Christmas post and took 2 and a half weeks to get here, which is a long time to wait between episodes of Cranford!

Secondly we had a delivery from British Cornershop... Brillo pads, baked beans, Branston pickle, salad cream and tea bags (it's funny what you miss!) and although I had forgotten to order some mince pies, I did a deal with one of the wives who had bought several boxes.

Things are starting to get very quiet in the village. Jim and the rest of the staff at the base finished work today, but I'm still in the office till Friday. Far from winding down, we've had one of the busiest weeks of the year, so I'm looking forward to heading up to Canmore on Friday!

Monday, 17 December 2007

What more winter sports kit?

Now that we have exhausted the list of ice hockey purchases (I've even got a lace tightener and special hockey tape that you wrap round your socks) the time has come to equip ourselves for the ski slopes...

As you will recall, although Jim is a seasoned skiier, I've gone over to the "dark side" and decided to learn snow boarding. Partly because it looks cooler and partly because the boots are a million times more comfortable. (Really they are like trainers... lovely!)

Prior to my very short episode in ski school a week ago, Jim had made me buy ski boots "because otherwise you won't be comfortable and you'll hate it" (!!) Fortunately Ben, the man who runs the ski shop in town is fantastic and not only swapped my worn ski boots for new boarding boots, but more or less threw in a second hand board too (see left!) so now we are more or less ready for Christmas week in the Rockies!

The snow board isn't the only second hand thing we've recently acquired. Jim is very keen to get a dog and has been suggesting I have a cat too (to warm me up to the idea of a dog I think!) I didn't think it was right for us to take on a kitten when we're moving again in 18 months, but I decided that if a 'village cat' needed a home I'd consider it. In the Falklands (and here to a lesser degree) because of the lengthy journeys pets have to make, they often change owners rather than locations, which seems much fairer on the animal.

This morning one of the wives came into BFBS looking for a new home for a 'village cat', I was keen, but we had one small hurdle, we needed official approval from the housing department to have a pet (an often lengthy process!) so imagine our surprise when we came home and found a letter in our mail box announcing our "application to keep a pet had been approved" - especially considering we'd never applied for it!

We'll be inheriting the cat, Blacky, after the Christmas break.... the situation with the dog remains a subject of debate! :-)

As for Christmas... Jim's finishing work on Wednesday and my last day is Friday. Then we'll be spending 12 nights in Canmore staying in a condo at the Falcon Crest. Most of the village are decamping to Canmore, so we'll have most of our friends staying nearby too.

There's free wifi access though... so we'll keep the blog updated!

Monday, 10 December 2007


To the left is the view from the condo we stayed in over the weekend. We drove up to Canmore on Friday (about three and a half hours) and spent Saturday at Sunshine Village a local ski resort.

I've never been on a ski slope in any sort of capacity, so it was a totally new experience for me. I must admit I was rather put off the whole thing when we parked at the base of the mountain and it was -26c!

I thought it was going to be that cold all day, but fortunately it was 10c warmer at the peak and the sun was shining!

Jim left me in ski school, which I quit at lunchtime! I traded my hired skis for a snowboard which was much more fun. That's me on the right in the red ski jacket trying to get to grips with it. Fortunately the store I bought my ski boots from have agreed to swap them for snowboarding boots.

Yesterday we went to the Banff hot springs, which I had had a rather romantic image of in my head. I was a bit disappointed to discover it wasn't a steaming natural looking rock pool surrounded by snow, but an outside pool full of Japanese tourists! We still went in anyway and it was a little surreal sitting in water that was 39c whilst water droplets on your hair were freezing in the -10c air!

We drove back this morning through snow flurries on the Trans Can and discovered Ralston had had several more inches of the stuff over the weekend. It gets to the point where the only way you can notice there's been more is that the front path needs clearing again!

Thursday, 6 December 2007

More snow

I thought I'd better pop in for a quick update before we head off to the Rockies for the weekend. Last Friday we hosted our first Murder Mystery party, a couple of people in the village have done them recently and raved about the results, so not needing much encouragement we decide to follow suit and bought the kit!

Ours was set in 1848 and our guests were great, turning up in some fantastic outfits and throwing themselves into character as soon as they arrived. We borrowed the mess silver and even had a "body" (actually just some cleverly placed Halloween accessories and some pillows!)

As everyone had said we would, we laughed all evening and only one person managed to guess the murderer, which was immaterial after a few drinks!

Jim and I put together our outfits with the help of a fantastic store in Medicine Hat called Value Village, which is a warehouse size charity shop, selling everything from furniture to jewellry. Worth pointing out though, that Jim's yellow cords did not come from Value Village! He bought them at a Ralph Lauren store in Holland!!

We have had snow on the ground for a week now and yesterday we had a fresh batch delivered. It deluged on the village and everywhere now looks like it is covered in a thick luxurious coating of white foam! The snow here is very different to Europe, very dry and powdery and we don't get any horrible slush at the side of the road. It's useless for making snow men because it refuses to stick together, but very beautiful!

After my mention of our rabbits in the last blog entry, I thought you'd like to see one, I took this photo this afternoon. It's amazing how close they let you get! Mind you he's probably decided we are rather benign since we started giving him rabbit food when it snowed! :-)

So that's it for this week, tomorrow we're driving up to Canmore to stay in the BATUS "condo" for the weekend.

I'll be having my first skiing lesson on Saturday (with high expectations from Jim!) and we're going to the Banff hot springs on Sunday which should be an amazing experience in the snow!